If you are pregnant and planning to immigrate to the UK, you may be worried about what lies ahead. There is, of course, the pregnancy itself that you have to worry about; with all of the concerns and worries that it can bring. On top of this, you will also have to worry about your rights in the UK and also those of your yet unborn child. This is without covering such issues as visas and healthcare.
Whether you have planned to be pregnant before coming to the UK or the timing was less than ideal, there are still plenty of options for expectant mothers looking to make the UK their home. You may think that being pregnant will affect your options but this is unlikely to be true in the vast majority of cases. So here in this blog post, we are going to look at some of the more common issues that expectant mothers are likely to come across in their immigration journey to the UK, and hopefully, provide you with the answers that you need to help you to make your decision to come to the UK.
Healthcare In The UK For Immigrants
The UK operates a universally free-at-the-point-of-use healthcare system for everyone who is legally resident in the UK. As long as you entered the country legally, you will have already paid the Immigration Health Surcharge which allows you to use the service free of charge. This surcharge covers primary (GP and nurse appointments) and secondary (hospital-based appointments) healthcare in the UK. The same rules apply to expectant mothers, who will be able to give birth to their children in an NHS hospital, free of charge. This, of course, is a great reason to choose the UK as a place to live, as many countries do not offer universal healthcare.
As we have noted, this universal healthcare is only applicable to those who are legally resident in the country. If you are here as a visitor or illegally, you will not be entitled to free healthcare. If you are visiting the UK, it will be best to have medical insurance due to the fees that will be charged if you need to use some NHS services. While you will be able to use a local GP service (as long as you have been in the area for more than 24 hours and less than 3 months - and the GP is accepting patients) for free, you may not be able to use some hospital services (though some are still universally free) unless you have the ability to pay the fee (which is generally 150% of the standard NHS cost).
Visa Options For Expecting Mothers
As you may expect, there is no visa route that is specifically suited to expectant mothers. In order to apply for a UK visa, you will need to meet the eligibility criteria of one of the many visa options that are offered in the UK. One thing that you will need to bear in mind is that having a child may cause you financial difficulty if you are unable to work. The vast majority of UK visas have the stipulation that you are unable to receive public funds. This means that you will not be paid Standard Maternity Pay like many working mothers in the UK who take maternity leave after the birth of their child.
The vast majority of visas in the UK are suitable for expectant mothers, but please take into account that any immigration review is going to ensure that you can afford to maintain your stay in the UK, even if you are not working. This means that you may need to have more than the minimum maintenance funds available for your chosen visa. This will still be the case if you are coming to the UK as a couple, and UK Visas and Immigration will want to see proof that you can financially sustain yourselves once you arrive in the UK.
Nationality For Your Unborn Child
One very common misconception is that if a child is born in the UK then they are automatically a British citizen - this is not true. Citizenship in the UK is based on the nationalities and rights of the parents. For instance, if one of the parents is either a British citizen, an EEA citizen with Permanent Residence or has gained Indefinite Leave to Remain then the child will be able to gain British citizenship, but if neither of the parents has these (i.e. they are in the UK on a visa), the child will not automatically be a British citizen.
The good news is that even if your child is not born a British citizen, they will be able to become one once you have gained Indefinite Leave to Remain. In this case, they register to become a British citizen. While this may seem like a negative, there is a very good reason for it: the children cannot be used to allow the parents to settle. As one of the world’s most sought after immigration destinations, the UK is very careful to prevent loopholes which allow visa holders the opportunity to skip the system. It may seem somewhat callous, but the system does help to ensure that visa holders do not just choose to have kids as soon as they arrive and then use the child’s nationality to settle.
So to sum things up, the UK is a great place for pregnant immigrants to head to. It has a great healthcare system, which by global standards is effective and cheap. The country also does not punish expectant mothers for being pregnant on arrival and even offers the ability for the children of immigrants to become British nationals. As immigration destinations go for pregnant women, the UK should be top of your list.